Girls' Weekend in the mountains

I was honoured to be invited to an all-women's weekend at my son's sweetie's mother and aunt's country home, an airy, embracing year-round home on a mountain-ringed lake a few hours' drive north of Montréal. Here's the magical view from the front deck; this winter, the Laurentians were still abundantly snowy in early April.

Welcome to Girlfriend Heaven: seven convivial women, rafts of prosecco, good food that didn't require more than casual cooking, Audrey Hepburn movies and a Bob Marley-to-Motown soundtrack. 

What do women talk about, relieved of the busy-ness of work and family? Politics of all sorts; philosophy; how much work a movie star can have done before she's unrecognizable; tales of newfound love and longtime ones; the joys and thumps of being on your own past 50.

We toasted milestones: H. is days away from becoming a grandmother; I. is about to publish her tenth book and invited us to choose the cover art: N. is newly empty-nested and designing her own apartment. Another will soon join a new partner in his home, her love for him greater than his for bold wallpaper.

In French and English—but also Italian, Russian, Greek and Pig Latin—women told jokes, described births, mourned parents, shared scandalously funny  stories that I cannot report here, but will only say: Bill Clinton? Just as you always suspected. 

Deep issues were resolved: whether DIY haircolour is Russian Roulette, and whether there is life after death. The former: short hair, no, long hair probably; the latter: debated during the prosecco so still an open question.

Besides a tasty veal lasagna, I contributed a homily from my American roots, which was new to my Canadian friends: "Ain't mama happy, ain't nobody happy": we can neither keep the love flowing to our dearest nor contribute to our work when we neglect our own well-being, never permitting ourselves to take these retreats.

For me, that time is especially restorative when spent with sympatico women, feet up, hair down, chocolates, popcorn and fruit at hand.

Do you enjoy such getaways? Who is there, and what do you do?

I hope, whereever you are, that this upcoming long weekend is a time of renewal and comfort.


As you were describing your weekend it reminded me of weekends I have shared with girlfriends. I only wish we made time to get together more often....think I will put it out there and see if I can arrange something soon.
Your group sound particularly eclectic which must make for interesting conversation. Very impressed that you have a published author in your midst....perhaps you might hint at her book titles in the future?
Susan B said…
It's been way too long since I spent a weekend (or any amount of time) with "the girls." It sounds wonderful and so restorative.
Susan said…
I recently traveled to Santa Fe with a friend to meet up with other friends--all women. We had a wonderful time.

Breathtaking photo of the setting of your trip!
LPC said…
I haven't done something like that since a former friend's 50th birthday. As a newlywed, I'm sticking close to home. But I imagine the time will come again. In fact, I should propose it for my little sister's 50th in a couple of years. I bet you had a wonderful time.
Duchesse said…
hostess: I.'s fiction is published in Greek; she's followed on the streets by fans there, but lives in relative privacy here, where she works as a journalist.

Susan: Whether traveling or just gathering at someone's place locally, these weekends are a marvelous time.

LPC: Given the time frame (a weekend) and technology, perhaps you might dare a parting, should your sister and other friends be up for it.

Pseu: Several women came up and spent the day- even that was wonderful.

Cornelia said…
When I first read your entry, I bemoaned the fact that I have not had a girls' weekend since moving to another state three years ago. Lo and behold the phone rang at lunch, and a get-together is in the plans at a mountain cabin about an hour away from me. Just what I needed today. :)
Every year since 1984 (maybe earlier? ) six of us from high school have gathered together. At first we stayed at a friend's parents' house. Then someone's Texas Hill country property. Then another girl's lake house. For our 50th birthday year we went to Sonoma for a week. For our 55th, off to St Kitts. And last month we spent a long weekend in New Orleans. One of our group has Stage IV breast cancer so we are thinking of moving the 60th week up a year or so. One is divorced, three have no children, three have three children. I cherish these weekends like you would not believe. Incredibly smart and wonderful women. My husband KNOWS to not question these weekends ... they are non-negotiable. I am so glad you got to go.
materfamilias said…
I love the idea of the getaway, and quite often I love the weekend itself. In fact, I spent a great couple of days with some of my sisters last August. But I'm often a bit anxious about finding some chill-out space on my own -- and feeling comfortable making my excuses to achieve that. . . . That said, you've inspired me to try setting something up with my sisters again this summer.
Have a lovely weekend -- hope that snow melts and Montreal shows off her spring self, like she can!
Duchesse said…
Cornelia: What synchronicity; with just a little planning these are guaranteed terrific times.

NN Bartley: To have friends for so long is truly another realm of Girlfriend Heaven. And a reminder to make these times happen, thank you.

materfamilias: Oh, I hope you do. I no longer have my sister any more and would give anything to have that occasion. No excuses needed.

Tiffany said…
What a wonderful post! And a great saying. I've been thinking about organising a 'girls' weekend' for a while, and you've given me the impetus I need. Dragging some of my friends away from their families (with younger children than mine) will be tricky, but I will try. One of my favourite weekends ever was when a girlfriend had a 'hens' weekend' at a gorgeous country property - 10 women, much cooking, wine, laughter, music and even a few tears.
Mardel said…
It has been a couple of years since I have enjoyed a weekend with girlfriends. I a free there is nothing as restorative. I was scheduled to go to Santa Fe next week, but won't be able to travel so i will sadly miss it, but I hope not to miss the next opportunity.
Madame Là-bas said…
I have enjoyed a couple of road trips in Arizona with women friends. We laughed, sang badly, talked a lot and supported each other in difficult moments. Our car broke down in the desert but a gallant man stopped and waited with us until AAA arrived.
Anonymous said…
One of my sisters has a place in France , nothing sophisticated , deep in the Normandy countryside . Easily reached from northern England . We three sisters go there for a few days & never touch on the major cities . We pootle about during the day , laughing when we get lost , having long lunches & enjoying some aimless shopping . Evenings are spent sitting outside with the inevitable wine , nattering . I do enjoy it ,but am ashamed to admit I always miss my husband of 44 years (& the dogs even more ! )
Duchesse said…
Tiffany: Our retreat was less than 2 hrs from the city where we live. Perhaps you can find a place that's doable for a day trip for those who cannot stay longer, or only for one overnight.

Mardel: Sorry you can't go; maybe yo ucan organize a gathering with the same or other friends asap.

MME: Road trip-now that is an adventure! And thank god for AAA.

Wendy: Part of the pleasure of being away is missing someone. But I believe it is •very• good for partners of any age to have time to commune with their friends, away from coupledom- just as themselves.

Duchesse said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tash said…
It sounds like a truly wonderful weekend!! I'm long overdue for a ladies weekend myself :)

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